Welcome to the Butterscotch Club

YouTube comments sections are the blistered anus of the Internet. Fortunately, the folks that watch my videos tend to post really good comments. One of them recently caught my eye and it got me thinking about what happens when you have reviewed gear for 13 years. The commenter basically said that I have become the thing I railed against when I first started the blog. It was posted on a video where I criticized needlessly complex flashlight UI (stop me if you have heard this criticism on both parts before).

The trend to like the stuff when you started is a huge part of the enthusiast mindset. Its no coincidence that car collectors love the cars that were the new hotness when they first started driving and it is similarly no coincidence that gear reviewers tend to like the stuff that was the communal grail items when the first started.

With that said I thought it would be fun to revisit two pieces of kit that were the hotness when I started in the Gear World—the McGizmo Haiku and the Spyderco Caly3 in ZDP-189. As luck would have it, I found a really nice Caly3 at Arizona Custom Knives recently and it just arrived this week, tickling that gear nostalgia part of my brain. These won’t be two full reviews, but I will score them. But before that, here are a few pictures of these retro-awesome pieces of kit:

McGizmo Haiku

The Haiku’s continued utility despite its paltry output comes from two sources—its supremely nice body tube and it still pace setting reflector. This is the beam pattern by which all other beam patterns are judged. It provides even, useful light without holes or doughnuts. It simply shines like a pocket sun. The click, which now appears in many other lights, is a blessing and the clip is great too. The light tailstands like a statute. But, like with all things so heavily based in computers, the emitter is no longer all that great. 138 lumens out the front is definitely fine for most tasks, but lights this size nowadays are total photon bazookas. If you can get a new one with a more current emitter, this is obviously not a flaw, but my Haiku is over a decade old and its emitter is equally aged. Fortunately, a reader sent my a state of the art drop in with 4 modes, a kilolumen or so high, and a whisper bright low. It still runs the easy mode memory and has none of the clickfest bullshit you find on modern lights. Most importantly the drop in is easy to install and keep that lush reflector in place. With a modern emitter or the drop in I have, the Haiku is again state of the art, much like a restomod muscle car from the 70s with the new Corvette engine dropped in for a performance boost.

2023 Score: 18/20 stock (2 off for Output); 20/20, PERFECT as configured.

Spyderco Caly3 in ZDP-189

Unlike the Haiku, the guts here still hold up quite well, as ZDP-189 is still an impressive and fun to use steel even in the age of gluttonous amounts of M390. With its high hardness and decent stain resistance, its a great steel for an EDC knife. It also isn’t IMPOSSIBLE to sharpen, which is a rarity for steels over 65 HRc. The knife is also a master class in design and a sort of purified strain of Spyderco design. The leaf shape blade is excellent in a wide variety of tasks and the stock is still quite thin. The clip, which was one of the first wire clips, is a real treat. But it is the handle that instantly confirmed that this is still one of the very best production knives out there and one of the three best Spydercos ever made. Nothing, and I mean nothing, falls across the fingers quite like the Caly3. It is a subtle, curvaceous splendor in the hand being both quite comfortable AND supremely obedient during cutting tasks.

2023 Score: 20/20; PERFECT

These two items have proven to me that good design is timeless. They have also proven that nostalgia makes critical evaluation very, very difficult. In the end, I think these scores are right. But there is a virtually equal chance they are a sign that I have joined the Butterscotch Club.